No Locals Allowed?
By Dimithri Wijesinghe and Chenelle Fernando
“No Locals Allowed” is a Facebook page which sheds light on experiences by locals in certain hotels and guest houses. The page has been in operation since December, 2016 and has been posting more frequently since of late. As such, we believed it only apt to delve into the matter.
As the name suggests, local guests claim to have, on numerous occasions, endured discriminatory treatment, service, or were denied entry into the premises of certain establishments.
Rogger Kenneth Schales, one of the founders of the page, stated that it was their very own personal experience that triggered them to initiate this idea.
“What’s unfortunate is that one of the places we visited was actually one we had been to before, but they didn’t let us in this time because they had newly expanded their business,” said Schales.
Whilst he doesn’t hope to influence anyone in any way or form, he hopes to form a database of all these establishments and occurrences, thereby making it a platform run completely by the public. He said: “We quote the public’s views and share their stories.”
In Schales’ view, most foreigners who travel to Sri Lanka do so with the hope of interacting with locals, and attitudes such as this not only prevent this but also prevent locals from enjoying what their own country has got to offer.
As he said this, he added that the situation could be regulated by implementing house rules, whereby guests could be sent off in the unlikely event of noncompliance on their part.
Examining the page, the seemingly unfortunate experiences local tourists have had to endure seem overwhelmingly high. Highlighted below are some of the experiences alongside the respective owners’ sides of the story.
According to a local who visited a beach resort located at Nidangala wella, Kirinda, he was allegedly not served breakfast, and was told that only foreigners were allowed.
Speaking to the owner of this particular place, we were told that it was misunderstanding.
He said: “If there is any statement that we are not welcoming locals, it is a misunderstanding. I believe that the incident that you are referring to was a day where one of our waiters had mistakenly told the guests that this was a ‘foreigners only’ establishment. He did not even ask me, it was purely a misunderstanding.”
“We welcome both foreigners and locals here; we do not make such a distinction.”
Further, a boutique hotel located down New Galle Road, Weligama had allegedly shown a discriminatory attitude towards a local. Speaking to its manager who was angered by our inquiry, she refused to make a comment via the phone.
However, she added: “This was an isolated incident. We have plenty of locals staying with us. This one person you are referring to caused drama here and made unnecessary comments.”
A guest house located down the Adam’s Peak road in Nallathanniya was yet another spot listed on the above Facebook page.
As per the post, the guests seeking accommodation were allegedly not allowed into the premises from the get-go. Here, apparently the guests weren’t provided with an explanation as to why they were not allowed in.
In response, its manager said: “We don’t have a policy as such against locals or exclusively for foreigners. We are listed in most of the booking sites and we are open for anyone. But we do not accept persons simply walking in, or coming in bikes, especially couples coming in for short time periods.
“You know how couples walk in for brief stays – we do not permit this. Otherwise, if people are booking via our service listings and if they are in agreement with our check out conditions, then by all means it is open to anyone.
“Of course, we require that guests do not disturb other guests, but that applies to everyone. The minimum time period that a guest can stay is one night.”
Considering the responses provided by the relevant managerial staff and owners, there seems to be no alleged discriminatory policy. It became quite apparent that individuals could, however, be disallowed for disorderly behaviour, possibly attributed to alcohol use.
Nevertheless, refusing to serve customers breakfast and disallowing patrons into a rest house, even located at a sacred location such as Sri Pada, remains questionable.